Monday, 1 November 2010


Apart from the disconcertingly pervy-sounding name, there’s not much else particularly interesting about Dance4Daddy and this single. It bounces along nicely enough, but it sounds so 2003 Sophie Ellis-Bextor it’s a surprise when Jacy Mai (excellent pipes, by the way) pops up singing half the lyrics to ‘Feeling Good’. A cheeky reference is one thing, but the opening “It’s a new life for me/It’s a new dawn/It’s a new day” will probably have Anthony Newley pinging around in his grave. Also, Dance4Daddy appear to have forgotten that it’s probably a good idea to have a chorus at some point. Not that its important or anything, it’s just EXACTLY WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR FOR THE WHOLE SONG and means that it more or less breezes by without making even a dent in the consciousness.

Tom Nicholson

B.o.B. - The Adventures of Bobby Ray

At a time when the music industry is filled with so many differing artists emerging everyday, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand out and make a name for oneself. Though the diversity continues to expand, B.o.B. has found no trouble in setting himself apart and announcing his entrance into the industry. The debut album of Atlanta local Bobby Ray Simmons truly shows how talented he is and raises the bar for other artists to reach.

“B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray” is an album that has the ability of appealing to a vast number of tastes, while remaining true to one distinct style. With no two songs sounding alike, there is one to suit every mood and every personality. From head-bobbing beats to catchy chords and riffs, B.o.B. expresses himself with non-commercial, meaningful lyrics that explain his story to success. Songs like “Ghost In the Machine” and “The Kids” illustrate the difficulties faced in societies today, while others like “Nothing On You,” “Magic” and “I’ll Be In the Sky” are much more upbeat and get everyone singing along.

The hit song “Airplanes” is what he is most recognized for and it is one of the biggest songs of the year. When songs are as successful as his are, it is then no surprise that he works and tours with headlining artists including Eminem, Haley James, Lupe Fiasco and Bruno Mars. The album is a true depiction of his creativity and musicianship, with B.o.B. playing piano, guitar and trumpet, as well as rapping and producing, demonstrating a higher level of artistry that is yet to be seen among other artists in the industry.

Aliena Haig

3OH3 - Streets of Gold

The band that brought us 'Don’t Trust Me' are back. And they’re back with a whole new flavour. When Green Day teenage rebel anthems meet the Klaxons, throw in a few sound effects and you get 3OH!3’s new album “Streets of Gold.” Feisty, passionate and fist-pumping are just a few of the words that come to mind when listening to this album.

With a variety of synths, drum beats and various noises, including kissing sounds, whistles and beeps, “Streets of Gold” is full of surprises. You can never guess what will come next or how the song will develop, as each song takes an unexpected turn. One thing that is consistent though, is the driving beat behind every song, pushing them through to the end. Singing with Kesha and Katy Perry, 3OH!3 (pronounced “3 oh 3”) are quickly emerging within the industry and are certainly standing out with chanting lyrics that allow for no misinterpretations.

“Starstrukk” and “My First Kiss,” similar to “Don’t Trust Me” are packed with lyrics that verge on being disrespectful, but the fact that they are easy to learn and are combined with fun rhythms makes them popular when listening to them with a big group of people. Though not one of te top ranking albums of the year, 3OH!3 are not to be neglected and definitely bring something fresh to our ears.

Aliena Haig

Tinie Tempah - Disc-Overy

From a purely musical point of view this album is fantastic. Collaborations with names like Swedish House Mafia, Kelly Rowland and Ellie Gouldberg ensure that it sounds original and multi-faceted.

While remaining a hip-hop album tracks ‘Pass Out’ and ‘Frisky’ move flawlessly to drum n bass, whereas ‘Miami 2 Ibiza’ flaunts what Swedish House Mafia do best.

The influence of Ellie Goulding in ‘Wonderman’ sums up the most melodic side to Disc-Overy, with ‘Let Go’ also embracing a more guitar based rock style.

Unfortunately Mr. Tempah’s lyrics let this album down indescribably. We’ve all heard the clichéd ramblings of singles like ‘Pass Out’, with its rehashing of that done-to-death tune about having lots of dosh.

Be prepared for inspired lines like “I grew out of the dirt like a vegetable”, “I’m fire… don’t listen to doubt it’s a liar… don’t be Mrs. Doubtfire” and my favourite “ravin’ with the freshers” which, as we all know, is an oxymoron. Three Jagerbombs and a Tinie Tempah gig at freshers are as far as you can get from a rave without going for tea at your Nan’s house.

Tinie also seems to have an unhealthy obsession with his mother; she’s mentioned at least once in every song between tracks one and four. This led me to believe that he either ran out of new things to sing about or this is some kind of Freudian slip.

Tinie Tempah is a talented rapper but his sometimes ridiculous, often incoherent lyrics just don’t do the music the justice it deserves.

Rowan McCabe

Fenech-Soler - S/T

Despite the melange of genres that this Peterborough band attach to themselves (‘glam’, ‘psychedelic’ to name but a few according to their Facebook page), it is essentially electro-pop in the truest sense of the word. That is not to say, however, that the self titled debut album is not worth a listen. There are some serious floor fillers, despite many tracks being a bit samey. The 80's synth is fun and nostalgic for the first four tracks, especially the single ‘Lies’, but it runs the risk of becoming rapidly irritating, especially in the already crowded electro-pop market.

After being compared to the likes of Friendly Fires and the Klaxons, Fenech-Soler’s ultra radio-friendly record is undoubtedly in for some relentless air play; it is probably only a matter of time before we are all completely ‘Fenech-Soler’ed out. Yes, it’s a weird name, and not a wholly original concept, but it is definitely danceable, fashionable and guaranteed to not leave you alone once word gets out.

Rose Spittles

Black Soul Strangers – Animate

As I struggled through the cellophane that almost ended this review the cover let little go relating to what the CD would actually sound like. With a switched off lamp face on adorning the front and a multi coloured segmented circle the back it could be dance, rock, or folk. It is rock.

Falling somewhere between YouMeAtSix and Snow Patrol it makes me wonder why they are not signed to a major label. Then I spotted the independent label and the Google Mail email address doing nothing to hide self-management. The fact they have not been picked up is no surprise. They claim reverence from big names on radio such as Dermot O’Leary and Jo Whiley but this clearly rubbish.

Not chart friendly enough to satisfy the twelve-year olds that determine it and need to hire some management to sort a tour that will garner older support. This is by far and away the ‘should have been a success’ of the year. There are creative flourishes and the stand out tracks: The Haunting, Leave, Gallows and Wichita are gems among a pretty shiny rough. The kind of rock the current rock generation would enjoy as background listening at their dinner parties in their 30’s this album is 10 years too early. It is however wonderful to hear some well produced new rock music that isn’t over produced, preachy, overhyped, over considered but there lacks the bombastic ambition needed to get noticed or create an impact. The largest sparkle came in the last sixty seconds but that was evidently not the start point.

Max Beavis

Stromae – Alors on Danse

The Belgian has created a track targeted directly at our very own trebled up students... and what is not to like about this track apart from its repetitive nature. Punctuated by French and a deceptively catchy beat this track must be on every DJs playlist by now.

Verdict on the ‘feat. Erik Hassle version’ however: NO! Just no. The lyrics are do hilariously awful and shows that having versions of dance tracks with rappers is becoming apparently essential as having 6 remixes used to be. Just stop it! You had a perfectly good dance track and ruined it with unnecessary backing vocals and a completely superfluous rap!

Max Beavis

Linkin Park - Blackout

They should have stopped while they were ahead. Showing mastery only learnt by experience in places, yet total desperation in others and utter naivety in the vocals. A shame, as if he didn’t scream and they removed the centre breakdown (in so many senses of the term), it would an excellent return to form.

Max Beavis

Klaxons - Twin Flames

It took them long enough to record the second album, but what they have returned with is pleasingly more of the same. Yes, the album's now a long time ago and this track lacks the spark to take it from good to awesome, but it’s good to have them back. It is carried by the vocal, so the inclusion of the instrumental on the B-side is baffling.

Max Beavis

The Great Statesman – One Way Street

This band are Placebo-lite with airs of Lostprohpets also. Solid production and clear controlled guitar with clear lyrics make for a rock track away from the generic vein of indie. There are probably loads of bands out there doing this, but these guys are doing it right.

Max Beavis

Chase the Sun – Nights Like These

Bands with talented guitarists and singer who choose to overdrive the amps and scream into the mic annoy me. This is no different. Fans of Korn and possibly on the extreme end of Enter Shikari on account of the guitar melody may like this.

Max Beavis

The Quails - Fever

Party pop rock with echoes of the Strokes and Orson throughout. Ultimately a boring post indie wave track. I can imagine they’d be a fun live act to see but this won’t be bothering the radio waves anytime soon. Also why on earth did they feel it necessary to include an instrumental of the track?

Max Beavis

The Quails - Fever

Party pop rock with echoes of the Strokes and Orson throughout. Ultimately a boring post indie wave track. I can imagine they’d be a fun live act to see but this won’t be bothering the radio waves anytime soon. Also why on earth did they feel it necessary to include an instrumental of the track?

Max Beavis

Plan B - Prayin' [Remixes]

I have been a reluctant fan of Plan B for some time now. Reluctant because it is difficult to explain to others why I took a shine to him. He just has a knack for tracks that wind up stuck in your head and that you find yourself singing aloud to without realising. Prayin' is just such a track. The remixes on this release include Breakage's Bad Week Remix and Bad Week Edit (the edit presumably for radio), and the Riva Starr Club Mix, Riva Starr Edit and Riva Starr Dub Mix. Of the two artists, the stand out remix is Riva Starr's Club Mix: Breakage's mix is good, but it is not worth shouting about. The Dub mix is reasonably similar to the Club mix, and just as enjoyable. Overall both Breakage and Riva Starr have done a cracking job, but Riva Starr's mixes shine the brightest.

Helen Stephenson

Friday, 8 October 2010

Riverkids - The Seed

'The Seed' opens with a great beat, and when Pete Lawrie starts his soft rapping it promises to be something special. Fast forward to the chorus though, and, while its still pleasant on the ear drums, it’s just not the something spectacular you were waiting for. Listen to the first twenty seconds or so and its great: listen to it all and it’s OK. Still, keep an eye on these two because they’ve got what it takes to make really great music, it just hasn’t happened with this one. At the moment, a song for when you need a bit of background noise but nothing to pay too much attention to.

Rachel Hill

Rihanna - Only Girl

I’m grinning from ear to ear right now, and I’ll tell you why: Rihanna has returned musically to that shiny, happy place that brought us the likes of 'S.O.S' and 'Rude Boy'. This delightful, cheery tune is a massive contrast to the sound of her previous, darker studio album “Rated R” and showcases her talent for producing addictively catchy records whilst simultaneously changing hairstyles more than most would change their underwear! The best way to describe the ecstatically charged pop energy of this song is to imagine you are merrily eating piles of candy floss whilst flying over a rainbow on a sparkly, pink unicorn (called Sally)!

Owen Bull

Tina Lie - Twilight Hour

Tina Lie’s strong country vocals dominate her new single suggesting an alternative Americana feel to her music. However, her voice is the only element of originality on the track. The melody is upbeat and momentarily catchy but it is a generic tune – bland and indistinctive. Her lyrics are disappointing, amateur and typically ‘pop-rock’. They lack any sort of personality and are in places cringe worthy - she sounds almost as bored singing them as I was listening to them. Tina’s strongest asset is her rich, powerful voice, and it’s a real shame that it is undermined by this forgettable, mundane melody.

Marianne Dick

Robinson - That's All I Really Want

In Robinson’s ‘That’s All I Really Want’, Andy yearns for the simple life: "I want a place by the sea with a record player, with an old beaten up guitar with a pub down below just to stumble back home". Thanks to the melodic string accompaniment, our concentration is diverted away from his wishy-washy lyrics and the track provides a decent listen.

Joelle Lerner

Warpaint - Undertow

There’s a beautiful balance at play within Warpaint’s new single ‘Undertow’: the delicacies of the all female vocals set against a tougher, more urgent drum beat creates an inviting intimacy. It’s definitely not hard to see why Warpaint were chosen to do an opening slot for The XX’s forthcoming Autumn tour - like the breathy closeness of The XX, there’s a comparable use of responsive vocals going on, with the vocalists of Warpaint echoing over one another to create something ethereal and powerful. Combined with their use of Tegan and Sara-style angsty riffs, and I’d say you have something close to a winner.

Ros Fraser

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Everything Everything - Schoolin'

A perfectly pleasant piece of indie-pop following the same formula we hear every week of jaunty construction aiming for unique and hitting generic. This one has some not so novel whistle melody thrown in alongside the seemingly compulsory falsetto vocals. Some of their other tracks are half-decent but all lack longevity - and this is no different.
I can’t help thinking they are going down the same route as the Twang. Couple of good tracks, make a small impact through a few high profile people hyping them then disappearing for too long and coming back with a lacklustre second attempt considering the break. Bit early to call that? Maybe but just in case best book them for some desperate comeback attempt at Newcastle freshers week 2014 then.

Max Beavis

The Parlotones - Push Me to the Floor

Take The Script, add a bit of Snow Patrol (the not so good stuff) and make the result South African. What you are left with is something pleasant but bland and utterly forgettable. As good as it was to have a local band play the World Cup concert I would be very surprised to encounter them again.

Max Beavis

The Xcerts - Slackerpop

Signed to Xtra Mile, home to Frank Turner and Fake Problems, The Xcerts are in good company producing punk for the modern music landscape. Fast pace and simple melodies make a palatable record. It won’t be playlisting any radio stations but if you like Xtra Mile’s roster it’s worth a look.

Max Beavis

Marner Brown - Dirty Weekend

Take a simple, effective riff and a glance into a familiar, hedonistic lifestyle - naturally succeeded with regret ("sitting in my bed trying to wash away the weekend") - and you get a pretty decent indie rock and roll crowd pleaser. An infectious, radio-friendly chorus and a littering of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the up-and-coming London band’s latest single suggests future festival potential.

Sean Peacock

(Never Mind The) Stars - France

A promising start and a welcomed finish, but 'France' manages to make a catchy tune quickly become repetitive and monotonous. Of the thirty seconds one could initially enjoy, the single offers nothing enticing, except for providing a little amusement when listening to the lyrics. It does achieve “non-pretentious musical fun,” but if not eating the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that the single will soon help advertise, this is one to skip over when on shuffle.

Aliena Haig

The Bridgeheads - The Best One

Despite The Bridgeheads claim to "rich guitar textures, variations in dynamics and complexity of drumming" the ironically named single ‘The Best Ones’ conveys a sound that is bland and empty of imagination. The single begins with some ill-mixed drums and guitar which eventually develops in the chorus: unfortunately, at this juncture the singer launches into some tuneless falsetto and listening becomes unbearable. ‘The Best Ones’ conveys a failed attempt to imitate Radiohead, but without any of the skills and creativity that the latter naturally possess.

Becky Such

Tigers That Talked - 23 Fears

A likeable release from the Leeds based band Tigers That Talked, attempting to be melodramatic and epic simultaneously – and succeeding, just. A little forgettable and irrelevant, it takes a few listens to get your teeth into ’23 Fears’, but it’s pleasing and enjoyable nonetheless. Think Kings of Leon’s 'Notion', absent of heavy guitars or swagger. The dance remix is similarly good, but nothing spectacular.

Sean Peacock

The Perfect Crime - Everything Else Can Wait

I’m not sure what the sound effect at the start of track one, ‘Hailstones’ is, but it is certainly not hailstones. It is something far more disturbing, and not in an altogether positive way. It is clear from the adventurous and complex rhythms (‘Are We There’, for example) and dynamic confidence that the band have been together from a young age: this Cambridgeshire three-piece definitely know how to make a huge sound. Unfortunately, the lyrics lack subtlety and are littered with obvious rhymes, taking you back to the nauseating teenage emo stage in your musical education that most people would rather not re-live, frankly. Take for instance the lyrics "Let’s go back to the start again, Let’s go back to when we were friends" in ‘Hounded’...not exactly ground breaking stuff. None the less, there are moments of real promise, but sadly every time one of their intricate and harrowing melodies has grabbed your attention, it is interrupted by lead vocalist Adam Mortaro’s scream, that can only be described as ferocious barking. It’s powerful stuff... maybe I’m just not angry enough.

Rose Spittles

Feel My Method - Blackpuddin'

Blackpuddin’ is one of the strangest creations I’ve ever listened too, an unsettling mix of Yamaha keyboard sound effects, vulgar lyrics and the occasional scream. Almost every song sounds the same. I suspect one of their musical influences may be The Prodigy - they’re obviously attempting to reproduce a similar Rap-Rock-Electronic combination Liam Howlett and co. have mastered so well. Sadly, Feel My Method fail miserably. The most listenable track on the album, 'No Soul', is almost catchy and danceworthy but some bizarre occasional grunting sounds ruin the nearly achieved effect. The lyrics are slightly more comprehendible than the mumblings which characterise the rest of the album, but sadly this isn’t enough to save them. ‘No Soul’ is followed by their ballad track 'Hold On’, Feel My Method claim "you gotta have the ballad", I beg to differ. After 6:33 minutes of warbling I’d barely managed to hold on to my sanity. I can safely say I never want to feel, see or hear Chazegge’s method ever again.

Rebecca Hollingdale

Andy Lucas - Weekend Millionaire

Darkly humorous lyrics and macabre subject matter made up my first impressions of Andy Lucas’s debut effort, Weekend Millionaire. Song titles such as 'Miserable Musical Prostitute' and 'Einstein and the Taxi Driver' are immediately eye-catching - however, while his songs are often lyrically amusing (“It’s easy to be flippant when you’re zombie-ed on Prozac”, or Einstein snubbing Newton as a “jammy little apple-finding fuck”), his music is often simply not as striking as his words. In his liner notes, Lucas describes his “music and stories” as “a little untamed slice of madness”; 'Birds' and 'Burn' exhibit trailing and tripping melodies, and 'Talk Of The Town' offers a melancholy cello strain, but for the most part “Weekend Millionaire” it is yet another jazz & blues influenced pop record. If swirling arrangements and sardonic lyrics are what you seek, Andy Lucas is unlikely to disappoint; but while not altogether unoriginal, Weekend Millionaire is relatively recycled.

Rachel Belward

The Union - Black Monday

Comprised of Thunder guitarist Luke Morley and ex-Winterville members, The Union offer a razor sharp taster of their self titled debut album with the release of their single, Black Monday. What starts of as an acoustic piece soon erupts into a vibrant dose of electric rock that simply oozes passion and cool with every note. If this classy number doesn’t convince you to check out the rest of the album then give it a listen anyway, you won’t be disappointed.

James Fairfield

We're back...

After a nice summer break, NSR's back and ready to broadcast. We'll be keeping the blogs updated with all the reviews, interview and opinions of our music team. So, without further delay, the articles...

Ben Lowes-Smith and Mark Corcoran-Lettice

Monday, 24 May 2010

Tenny Ten - Swaggnificient

Reviewed by Antonio Alves da Silva

For a song that tries to uplift the mood you’re a quickly shot back down into a state of wanting to tear your hair out; achieved by the seemingly catchy chorus that becomes grating and the singer’s inability to rap. It’s a brave move, however a foolish one, to follow in Peter Andre’s steps by creating a new word and using it to name your song. I would like to say that the music is the only redeeming quality to the song, but only part way through and you realise that it is highly repetitive and soon tire of the overall bad song.


Mumford and sons – Roll Away Your Stone

Reviewed by Antonio Alves da Silva

Overall the song is impressive and easy to listen to. Initially you’re met by a folk style intro which unfolds into an energetic duet between guitar and lead vocalist; the contrast between quirky guitar and gruff voice provides an interesting feel which progressively becomes more powerful and sinister. Throughout the song there are sudden changes from soft to loud that’s works as the different sections flow smoothly with one another. It’s a pleasant twist to conventional folk music that gives a fresh sound to mainstream music you listen to on the radio.


Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Cellophane Flowers – Yes I am/If I Was A Girl (Double A-Side Single)

Reviewed by James Tabbinor

The Cellophane Flowers return! Or so I’m led to believe. Never bloody heard of ‘em. The press release would also have me believe that these guys have their own unique sound, which they don’t; their ‘catchy but merciless guitar riff [...] will not soon be forgotten’. All lies, I tells ya. Can’t remember it already, and I don’t care enough to attempt to.

Anyway, enough about yet another boring band with yet another boring single that I’m always FORCED to review (sort of), because I really can't be bothered talking about the music anymore. It’s time to take the label (Blurb Music PR, to task on their press release. Specifically this particular sentence: ‘Italian leading lady Francesca Corradini joined the band after auditioning on the day of the 7/7 bombings’. Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? In what way is that relevant? It really wound me up, because there’s no reason to mention that she auditioned on that particular date. I don’t get why the press release would include that titbit of information at all. Unless it’s just to make the authorities aware she was in the country on that date?

I think you all know what I mean. Case closed (and the world’s worst review with it).

Monday, 26 April 2010

Coheed and Cambria - Year of the Black Rainbow

Reviewed by Chris Render

This latest album from baffling prog-metal group Coheed and Cambria is exactly what fans have come to expect. For those familiar with the band’s conceptual oeuvre, Year of the Black Rainbow acts as a prequel to Second Stage Turbine Blades. For everyone else, it forms another part of the band’s almost incomprehensible science fiction storyline that pervades every album they have released. However, none of that is particularly important. What is important, however, is that Year of the Black Rainbow is awesome. Screaming guitars, pounding drums and Sanchez’s characteristic high pitched vocals combine to make an epic, cinematic and powerful album. Single release Here We Are Juggernaut is singularly impressive, and an album highlight. Though maybe not quite as good as previous albums like Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (and with a substantially more concise name), Year of the Black Rainbow shows Coheed and Cambria on top form.

The special edition of the album also includes a full length novel by the same name, written by band frontman Claudio Sanchez and author Peter David, and whilst some may consider this a somewhat pretentious move, it is indicative of the band’s dedication and the expansive nature of the world Sanchez has created.


The Butterfly Explosion - Lost Trails

Reviewed by Chris Render

I’d been looking forward to reviewing this debut album from Irish outfit The Butterfly Explosion, and I was not disappointed. Anarchic, eclectic and absolutely inspired, Lost Trails is everything a debut album should be, putting the band firmly on the map. The Butterfly Explosion clearly have no scruples about bucking conformity and trying new things, the album itself an experiment in music, combining beautiful music and deep, emotion-wracked vocals to create something ethereal and dreamlike. Lost Trails is truly breathtaking, a refreshingly unique exercise in sound that needs to be heard to be believed. Every track is a highlight, but if I had to pick favourites then Sophia and Chemistry are the real greats. But it is difficult to choose just a few tracks from an album like this. If you’re a fan of experimental music and shoegaze, or if you just want to check out something a bit different, I’d definitely recommend The Butterfly Explosion, and expect to see more from them in future.


Band of the Eye - Contagious Ignorance

Reviewed by Chris Render

In the simplest and briefest of terms, Contagious Ignorance, the debut album from Bristol alt-rockers Band of the Eye, isn’t bad. Hardly a contender for my album of the year, or even of the week, but it can’t be denied that tracks like Why Are You So Awful and Wasting are quite enjoyable. And “quite enjoyable” basically sums up Contagious Ignorance in its entirety. There are no particularly bad tracks on the album, and some highlights, like Dress-Down Day or the somewhat REM reminiscent Bye, are particularly good. It is difficult to know what to say about Band of the Eye: as musicians they are more than competent, as an album Contagious Ignorance is more than satisfactory. However, they don’t really manage to stand out. The only remarkable thing about the album is the welcome but somewhat quaint declaration that This Skin I’m In is unsuitable for airplay due to the use of profanity. Though I hope to hear more from the band, it would be less than surprising if they were to fade into obscurity, which would be a shame, because although not particularly unique, Band of the Eye are a group of fine musicians. I’d recommend having a listen, but don’t expect to be too astonished by what you hear.


Black Soul Strangers - Animate

Reviewed by Chris Render

This debut album from Irish pop-rock four piece Black Soul Strangers definitely positions them as a band worth keeping an eye on. It’s skilful, inspired and thoughtful stuff, everything you’d hope for from up and coming artists like these. The album opens phenomenally with Panic Sets Direction and Lies, both catchy and memorable tracks, before proceeding with a ten track display of raw talent. Tracks like Leave and Monster show the band’s more measured and calm side, whilst never losing their catchy, entertaining appeal, whilst Gallows and Wichita, both album highlights in my opinion, are somewhat more conducive to a club atmosphere, catchy, upbeat, fast and intense. With Animate, Black Soul Strangers have created an album that it’s hard not to fall in love with. Granted, their brand of pop-rock may be nothing new, but they manage to stand out from the crowd simply because they do it so well. Believe the hype: Black Soul Strangers could very well be the next big thing.


The Destructors - Politika

Reviewed by Chris Render

I’ll say one thing in The Destructors’ favour, they’re prolific. In the last year or so, I have encountered no less than three albums from the Peterborough punk band. It’s just a shame that none of them have been very good. And Politika is no exception. Tracks like To Vote or Not to Vote and F*** EU well exemplify The Destructors’ approach to injecting meaning into their music: loud, brash and poorly conveyed. Someone needs to sit down with the band and explain to them that there is more to having a political agenda than just shouting “f*** the EU!” over and over again. Politics is a particular lowlight. Even the album “highlights” like Looks Like Rain and Politics is Politics, which near the dizzying heights of competent punk rock, are far from good. The album also contains a cover of Alice Cooper’s Elected, about which the less said the better. The Destructors, it would seem, reached rock bottom a long time ago and liked it so much they decided to stay there. This review may sound overly harsh, but if you doubt me, please, feel free to see for yourself. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

0 out of f***ing five.

Depeche Mode - Fragile Tension / A Hole to Feed

Reviewed by Chris Render

No surprises here, really. Depeche Mode have been at the forefront of British electro for years, and this 8-track CD is no exception. Featuring tracks from their latest album Sounds of the Universe and a selection of remixes from artists like Peter Bjorn and John and Laidback Luke, this CD is a musical tour de force, suitably exemplifying why Depeche Mode have been met with the critical acclaim they have enjoyed over the years. Both Fragile Tension and Hole to Feed are highlights, catchy, skilful and instantly memorable. The second portion of the CD, the remixes of tracks from Sounds of the Universe is as varied as it is entertaining, shifting from a catchy and upbeat Roger Sanchez Club Mix of Perfect to a decidedly more laidback mix of Come Back by Sixtoes flawlessly. Of these remixes, the arguable highlight comes from the Roger Sanchez mix, but even the less enjoyable tracks, like the Popof Vocal Mix of Hole to Feed, are still triumphs of electro. Once again, it would seem, Depeche Mode have succeeded in creating a fantastic, enjoyable electro masterpiece.


The Foals - Spanish Sahara

Reviewed by Chris Render

Spanish Sahara is a great new track from Oxford indies Foals, moving from a sedate and progressive beginning into a more lively indie style as the track continues. Catchy, skilful and fun, Spanish Sahara is definitely worth a listen.

Frank Turner - Isabel

Reviewed by Chris Render

We all know what to expect from Frank Turner by now. Infectious, thoughtful and skilfully crafted, Turner has gone from strength to strength throughout his career and Isabel is no exception. A great song from a great musician.

Razmataz Lorry Excitement – A Year Short on Surprises

Reviewed by Chris Render

The new single from this Geordie electro artist is a synth triumph. A Year Short on Surprises is vibrant, cheery and catchy, and with a name like ‘Razmataz Lorry Excitement’ I would expect little else. Hope to hear this in clubs across the country soon.

The Delays - Unsung

Reviewed by Chris Render

I wasn’t completely sold on Unsung. That isn’t to say that it isn’t competently performed, however, more that it simply wasn’t to my tastes. If you like what the Delays have done so far, you’ll like Unsung, if you’re not a fan, this will do little to change your mind.

The Rebs - Don't Fool Yourself

Reviewed by Chris Render

Unashamed indie pop, Don’t Fool Yourself displays the musical skill of The Rebs, which is perfectly complemented by their upbeat and catchy style. The Southampton four piece are looking at a bright future, and it isn’t hard to see why Don’t Fool Yourself won ‘best pop song’ at the Exposure Music Awards.

Eugene and the Lizards - Bug Juice / I Want Action

Reviewed by Chris Render

This alt-rock single from Eugene McGuinness is one of the most refreshingly original things I’ve heard in a long time. With Bug Juice Eugene and the Lizards have thrown out the rule book and created a single that leads me to believe they’re a definite one to watch: I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the album, Glue.

Will and the People - Mr Sketchy

Reviewed by Chris Render

Mr Sketchy is undeniably likeable. Upbeat and infectious, Will and the People’s latest endeavour is a blend of indie pop and ska influences that doesn’t fail to deliver. Competently performed and catchy like the plague, keep an eye on Will and the People.

The Sunshine Underground - Spell It Out

Reviewed by Chris Render

It is important for me to say that Spell It Out is skilfully performed and altogether enjoyable. There is nothing about it that is bad. However, it fails to really stand out among hundreds of other indie tracks. I would recommend checking it out, but there are a fair few bands you might want to discover first.

Thea Ford - You Got Me

Reviewed by Chris Render

There is no shortage of female singer/songwriters like Thea Ford at the moment, but to disregard her prowess as a musician would be foolhardy. You Got Me is a catchy and thoughtful single, and Ford’s debut is refreshingly upbeat. I dare you to listen to it without smiling.

Dirty Weekend - Time

Reviewed by Chris Render

Stockton-on-Tees indie group Dirty Weekend’s debut single puts them on the map as a band to keep an eye on. Although hardly particularly revolutionary, it’s competently performed, catchy and enjoyable, with somewhat darker undertones. Imagine a somewhat more downbeat Maximo Park and you’ll be along the right lines.

80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Love Turns To Hate / Sushwep

Reviewed by Chris Render

Love Turns to Hate is the long awaited (by some people, anyway) return of psychosis rockers 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, and whilst their particular sound may be a little niche for some, I personally love it. Catchy, skilled... just downright entertaining, I am genuinely looking forward to their upcoming album Blood and Fire.

Goldfrapp - Rocket

Reviewed by Chris Render

This new single from British duo Goldfrapp is exactly what we’ve come to expect: enjoyable, upbeat synthpop with an excruciatingly catchy chorus and 80s sensibilities. Suffice it to say, I liked Rocket about as much as I like the rest of Goldfrapp’s oeuvre which is to say a lot.

Keane - Stop For a Minute

Reviewed by Chris Render

I’ve never been a huge fan of Keane, and sadly their new single Stop for a Minute has done little to change that. Featuring rapper K’Naan, this new track is a disjointed display of middle of the road pop and RnB sensibilities that fails to satisfy.

The Elizans - You Lost Me

Reviewed by Tom 'born in the 80s' Waldron

Haha the synth sounds like something off a mid-70s Black Sabbath record I wonder if that's intentional? Anyway it would seem that the synth and the suprisingly ripping guitar solo were the only things that grabbed my attention. Very well played and put together but lacking anything that would warrant (remember Warrant they were a great band: 'she's my cherry pie' etc.) repeated listens. Also it would seem they are fond of wearing hats. Wow.

Ghostfire - The Last Steampunk Waltz

Reviewed by Tom 'off the hook' Waldron

Yep this sounds like something off a Tim Burton movie. Definite Goth rock going on here but not in a cool way like Bauhaus or a self deprecating Type O Negative fashion. 'The last steampunk waltz' is undoubtedly very cheesy but nonetheless features some cool harpsichord and jangly guitars that remind me of the Damned's 1986 album Phantasmorgia but much less cool. If you wear milky contact lenses you'll probably dig this... if not maybe stay clear.

Hole - Skinny Little Bitch

Reviewed by 'smells like' Tom Waldron

Note: The following review will not contain the 'G' word anywhere! GRUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fuck.

It's 2010 and it would seem that the flannel rock revival is in full sway so grab your shotguns and party like it's 1994! (Yup that's right Courtney Love did infact kill Kurt Cobain as well as shooting J.R. (ED.: These are the reviewer's words and are in no way associated with NSR)). My only previous experience with Hole was their debut 'Pretty on the Inside' which I found unfocused and ultimately rather annoying. I have to admit I really wanted to hate this but whilst it's not a great song and doesn't really go anywhere it is kind of fun and irritatingly catchy very basic and stripped down but retaining a popiness. It makes me wanna form a riot Grrrrrl band and throw tampons at the audience or something. On a side note the new Hole L.P. features our dear sweet Courtney collaborating with Uncle Fester from the Smashing Pumpkins that's two of the most hated people in rock for the price of one! To Summarise this isn't great but if you liked Hole before this surely won't disappoint.

Mindflow - Switched (Original and Cutline remix)

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

Mindflow's track 'Switched' is a superb dubstep track, once again revealing dubstep as one of the most exciting genres of the 21st century. It is a genre that is rapidly expanding its boundaries and innovating its sound, not only making it more accessible but also more interesting. 'Switched' is a fine example of this, mixing dubstep with faster beats and piano riffs reminiscent of old house music.

There is also a killer remix from Cutline. I have no doubt that both versions will be mashing up dance floors across the country in no time at all.

The only small issue is that the track offers nothing we haven’t heard before. This does not detract from it being a good piece of music, but this remix gives off an air of being the sound of the moment, not the sound of the future of dance music.


Groove Armada - Look Me in the Eye Sister

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Whether you want to use this track to dance to or to just chill out it works well on both fronts, like a lot of Groove Armada’s material. Slickly combining their synthetic grooves and beats with decent vocals makes this single evidence that there is still much to come from the electronic group.

Mister Jack - My Girl Sharon

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Combining the vocal cheekiness of Madness with a heavier rock/reggaeish sound, Mister Jack’s single My Girl Sharon is a fairly amusing track to listen to, a guy informing the world about how proud he is that his girlfriend is a bit of a slag, but not hilarious enough for repeated listening.

Mirrorkicks - Podium

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Podium is another typical rock/indie single from London band Mirrorkicks that is likely to see them supporting many success full bands of the genre however it offers us nothing new and isn’t catchy or fun enough to become a guilty pleasure or even easy listening. Which can also be said of the B side track, Stand Up which may be a little more energetic that the title track however it suffers from all the same problems.

Band of Skulls - Death by Diamonds and Pearls

Reviewed by James Fairfield

After itunes gave them their initial exposure by picking their song I Know What I Am as the free single for the week, Southampton alternative rock trio Band Of Skulls’s latest single Death By Diamonds and Pearls from their excellent album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey is another quality dose of old school sounding rock. Guitarist Russell Marsden and bassist Emma Richardson vocal duets are tender and the instrumental is raw and brilliant. Making the second album an eagerly awaited release.

The Pretty Reckless - Make Me Wanna Die

Reviewed by James Fairfield

While you may approach The Pretty Reckless with caution as the band’s fronted by Gossip Girl star, Cindy Lou. Their single ‘Make Me Wanna Die’, featured on the Kick Ass soundtrack, is a decent and ballsy offering from the band that demonstrates that they’re more than a tv starlet’s failed attempt at music. In fact Cindy Lou’s vocals are top notch and the instrumental core of the group is powerful enough to leave us wanting more.

Audio Bullys - Only Man

Reviewed by James Fairfield

The electronic duo Audio Bullys return with their new single Only Man, which is slickly packed full of dynamic beats and breaks that sees them on top form and is most likely going to become a regular track heard on nights out, especially the superior remix from Jakwob.

The only problem is that even though the CD comes with three remixes it’s missing the best version of the song, which is the Rok remix that can be found on their new album, Higher Than Eiffel.

But overall a great single with a edge that becomes sharper the more you listen to it.

The Keyz - Overcomplicated

Reviewed by Tim Thackray

I wasn’t aware people still put wrote names stuff like ‘Keyz’ apart from 5 year olds and N-Dubz of course but this band obviously thought it would add a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to proceedings. It doesn’t. Singing like a man with pinecones in his mouth over a backing track that even Keane would get a bit bored at, this song drifts makes you shudder like a Gordon Brown smile. It’s another painfully dull reminder of the state of mainstream rock of the moment which insists on ‘soaring’ choruses which have a about enough emotion in them as a Gordon Brown smile, oh wait I’ve already said that. Like a Gordon Brown smile (three times a charmer) this song will definitely not be remembered by the end of 2010.

Jimmy and the Sounds - Sounds

Reviewed by Tim Thackray

If this music is razor sharp indie then the razor is well and truly blunted, rusting a bit on the side with a slight tinge of dry blood. Sounding like a bloated Reverend and the Makers, this lad rock affair about dancing at a disco leads to some pretty uninspiring lyrics which actually ruin the only positive aspect of the song, the melody of the chorus. Maybe I’m being too harsh though, while this may not be ‘quirky indie’ they strive too, the band definitely has the knack of writing a catchy melody so the potential is there for development, and that means never using an underwater vocal affect in a song ever again, hear me?

Blackgold - Shine

Reviewed by Tim Thackray

Apparently this song appeared in the soundtrack for the movie “Valentine’s Day” – The American attempt to recreate the magic of Love Actually by piling in as many stars as possible and letting the drivel commence. It is easy therefore to imagine such Hollywood’s darlings as Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Alba showing their emotional side, wind blowing through their hair, a single tear in the eye as this pop rock blasts out. The track itself is stuck in generic ‘anthemic’ pop of the moment, like ‘Take That’ with added guitars. With lyrics such as “Wont you shine tonight, in the face of the light” this will undoubtedly be a radio 1 daytime hit but this is just uninspiring poppycock to attempt to add emotions to actors who can’t act.

Faithless - Not Going Home

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

Faithless have done it again with ‘Not Going Home’. Once more they have produced a dance classic that just sounds effortless. The hook is catchy, the song builds beautifully and, as with all Faithless music, I found myself blown away by their unforced ability to produce a hit dance track. The remixes included are also stellar, particularly Hervé’s distinctive, eardrum destroying, bassy mix. If you’re already a fan you won’t be disappointed. If you’re not a fan yet, get listening.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Solex vs. Cristina Martinez and Jon Spencer - Amsterdam Throwdown, Kingstreet Showdown!

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

Having never heard of Solex, Cristina Martinez or Jon Spencer, ‘Amsterdam Throwdown, Kingstreet Showdown’ was a bit of a wildcard for me. So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself listening to some funky beats as the opening track ‘Bon Bon’ got into its stride. ‘Bon Bon’ rolled straight into ‘Fire Fire’, and I was hooked. This isn’t just plain funk, this is off-the-wall, ‘yeah stick that sample of that erotic-sounding posh woman in’ music, which is always going to catch you off guard and personally I couldn’t be more pleased than if I had just been given a free head massage. ‘Galaxy Man’ thrilled me equally, and by this point I was searching around to find out if these guys will be touring the UK any time soon (sadly they are not). It was at this point that I discovered this snatch of a press release on the Solex website:

‘Punk rock royalty Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez have joined forces with Dutch electronic heroine Elisabeth Esselink, for the most exciting collaboration/confrontation since The Jetsons meet The Flinstones. Imagine if you will, a fisticuffs of funk, garage and soul between Captain Beefheart and Ike & Tina, with a sprinkling of hip-hop courtesy of Mike Ladd.’

Well I hope that helped you out. Press releases are often more of a hindrance than a help. Try not to be misled by the bit about punk rock, this isn’t even close to punk rock. This is funk, and by Jove it's funky.

This is the kind of music that I love stumbling across in a venue I’ve never heard of and finding myself delighted beyond belief. ‘Amsterdam Throwdown, Kingstreet Showdown’ is, quite simply, a treat. The one sad note to add though, is that there does not appear to be a UK tour lined up to go alongside this release.


Straight Lines - Persistance In This Game

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Kicking off with a decent fast paced dose of rock & roll in the form of their previously released EP track, Versus The Allegiance. Straight Lines have created a pretty impressive debut album that demonstrates a quick and sharp style of rock that is equally catchy and enjoyable.

Like many British rock/indie bands the potential is evident here whether or not they continue to find critical and commercial success is less clear. In tracks like Runaway and Loose Change it is easy to see the commercial appeal and thankfully these numbers are accompanied by other songs that have a more artistic edge to them and fully equipped with decent riffs and lyrics, see track 5 – Antics.

However by the end of listening to the album there are not any tracks that individually stand out as classics and many of the songs seem to merge into one without out much to distinguish one from another.

Persistence is in Game is not a bad album and is likely to circulated well around the indie rock circuit and does make for easy listening and works well as background music but not exactly what you would have on repeat on your itunes.

Will and the People - Addicted

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Kicking off with a Madness style cheeky intro Will and the People’s single Addicted is an odd mix of alternative rock with a hint of popular indie in it. A song about addiction that according to the band was written in one night specifically to do with someone you can’t leave even if you wanted to.

It’s quite a funny track but not one for frequent listening even though the instrumental is likely to get annoyingly stuck in your head.

N. Wolex - I Don't Wanna Be Your Hero

Reviewed by Jennie Mitchell

The press release for N.Wolex didn’t give me much enthusiasm to hear their latest single. The accompanying description of a song “about a girl who rebels against her parent’s wishes’ for a ‘safe’ career path” left me expecting little more than a generic whine from an artist desperately clinging to the angst of their adolescent past. However, what I didn’t expect was just quite how bad it would be. The track opens with a bizarre criss-cross of musical styles, from a pitiable endeavour at a string orchestra, to a monotonous plod from a haphazardly selected piano key and jarring electric guitar with an attempt at a hip-hop Bollywood mash up. Basically I struggled to listen to the full 3 minutes and 38 seconds of atrocity, painfully accompanied by strained screechy vocals, which caused me to hesitate over the artists’ gender. I’ll give N. Wolex some credit, it is different, but here, in the interests your own auditory wellbeing, it’s definitely worth sticking to what you know.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Trail - City

Reviewed by Joel Hawkins

Described as an “Editors-esque song”, I was very excited to be given the chance to review ‘City’, a new single by the up and coming London based group, Trail. I am a huge fan of The Editors and their style of music so could not wait to see how the bands compare. ‘City’ is a good quality song with a haunting grooved bass line and melancholic rock riff, but just doesn’t seem to catch my attention. A well performed track but without the IT factor. It was like going on a date with a beautiful girl, perfect figure, stunning hair (and a great rack) but all she talked about was her pet cat “Ginger”. ‘City’ has a good ‘shell’ but without anything inside to make it that fantastic song. Trail has the potential to become a huge act, but it will almost certainly not be with this song. Definitely too early in their career to be compared to the likes of The Editors.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Ian De Sylva – Josephine EP

Reviewed by James Fairfield

A highly enjoyable indie track from the ex Silver front man equipped with a decent and continuous instrument backing and vocals. A perfectly suitable track for any one looking for a little bit of alternative rock.

The B-side, Gas Electricity Phone, is more classic rock orientated but still acts as a solid accompaniment to the single.

Reaction B

Parasol – My Luminaries

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Fresh after winning the Glastonbury emerging talent competition alternative rockers My Luminaries release their first single Parasol off their impressive debut album Order From The Chaos.

The single itself is an original and authentic piece of alternative rock that shows that this a bad with the potential to become very successful on the indie market and with a gig at the upcoming Glastonbury festival only good times seem to lie ahead.

Reaction A

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Ice Black Birds - The Playground

Reviewed by Tom “Grand Funk” Waldron

Before I even listen to these guys I have to air a couple grievances regarding self consciously old school rock music. There are two kinds of these type of bands the ones who end up sounding like authentic, honest and no bullshit tributes to the bands they grew up with Giving off the air of actually being born too late and those who come across as a cheap watered down parody of Black Sabbath or Zeppelin or what have you (*Cough* Wolfmother *Cough*) And upon listening to these guys it becomes clear that they’re not a cheap Spinal Tap without the jokes style parody, They’re not amazing either but there’s enough to recommend here; the vocal harmonies are a very nice touch and all in all I’m very much reminded of a clunkier more- ‘indie’ sounding version of Witchcraft from Sweden.

Unfortunately for Ice Black Birds this kind of music should make me want to break out my bell bottoms strap on a bandana and take some Quaaludes (Whatever Quaaludes are) but these guys don’t do that. However the following bands do: Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Pentagram, Down and Cathedral. So in summary if you want some burnt out hippie rock you could do a lot worse but also a lot better than the Ice Black Birds.

Side note: Just saw a band photo and not one of these fuckers is wearing a bandana or bellbottoms they actually look like Razorlight. Rock bands should look like this See kids Mullets! Bad Facial Hair! Jackets and no shirts! Graveyards! This is why you guys don’t rock as hard as you should! By the way I'm not being ironic here at all this shit is key to rocking hard! Also why don't more bands go for the post apocalyptic road warrior look anymore? Those guys clearly meant it! whatever 'it' was.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Archie Bronson Outfit

Reviewed by Tom 'Dangerously Happy' Waldron

‘Holy moly Batman! An exploding shark!’

Now, before I review the hot new platter by the Archie Bronson Outfit a little back story as to how I was roped in to reviewing it. On Wednesday night I was right fucken wrecked and one of the heads of music passed me this and I was all 'The Archie Bunker outfit? Durrr stay outta Riverdale!' I guess my point is that I have been exploited. Anyway what we seem to have here is white guy disco which is funky yet angular but not in a Gang of Four way with some guy singing with a lot of echo and reverb on his voice. And I must say the heavy-psych tag is misleading because that would make me think of Hawkwind… although maybe that’s because I’m old and decrepit. It’s enjoyable enough stuff although not personally my cup of tea so if you’re cooler than me (and who isn’t?) you’d probably enjoy this. Apparently it was produced by DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy who must be some kind of DFU tribute act, so good luck to them with that.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Hush Now – Contrails

Reviewed by James Tabbinor

This review is gonna be short, because this band are crap. They sound like they’re fresh off the indie assembly line, the singer sounds like he has flu or something, and it’s just really shitty boring music.

If you’re a fan of Skins (isn’t your life just like Skins? Yeah! Awesome! I’m totally partying and having emotional difficulties ALL THE TIME) then you’ll like this, probably.


Alternative review:


The Strange Boys – Be Brave

Reviewed by James ‘James’ Tabbinor

There’s not a lot to say about this new release by young Texans The Strange Boys, and it’s not particularly favourable. I’ll start off with the bad stuff, so they can have the good stuff for pudding.

Essentially I have two major problems with this single; for starters, the vocals. They’re terrible. Ryan Sambol (lead vocals) cannot sing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of plenty of bands/artists where the singer cannot sing, but they’re voice has something quintessentially gripping and charismatic about it. This guy doesn’t have that edge, he just screeches into the microphone, trying to get a raw, Jagger-esque sound, but just doesn’t pull it off. It’s not pleasant to listen to, and you can barely understand what he’s actually singing.

Now, I’ll go on to the second bad point about this single, which may cut Sambol some slack. It’s the recording, specifically (once again) vocals. Everything else sounds pretty great (which I’ll come to shortly) but the quality of the vocals is shocking. Both the lead and backing vocals sound really, really tinny, a bit like Sambol is singing down a phone line. This single, and it’s poor recording, really doesn’t bode well for the forthcoming album (also entitled ‘Be Brave’). Might I add that if this tinny sound is intentional, then it was a really poor decision production wise.

Now, those are the two things that got my goat, and it’s a real shame because the rest of the single actually sounds pretty good. It’s got a really nice bluesy riff that’s reminiscent of The Rolling Stones, or even Chuck Berry. Listening to this was actually really refreshing because it sounds nothing like the sort of bands that are coming off the indie assembly line at the moment. It’s just a massive shame that this has to be hindered by what is essentially a poor singer.

All in all I’m gonna split my score in two; what was essentially nice bluesy rock n’ roll was let down by shocking vocals. As such the music gets a 3/5, and the vocals a 1.

Lucius – Enemy

Reviewed by Padraig Gilhooley

Enemy, the new single from welsh band, Lucius – the vehicle for singer-songwriter Luke Morgan, is an infectious synth-pop/rock record with a chorus that will remain in your head for longer than you’ll probably want it to. Citing influences including Nine Inch Nails and Beck, Lucius’ Enemy is more akin with the likes of La Roux, which while being no bad thing in itself, the song is not likely to push any boundaries.


Saturday, 6 February 2010

Fan Death- A Coin For The Well

Reviewed by Phil Boardman

Fan Deaths EP “A Coin For The Well” is a mash up of the sounds of electronic 80’s and a modern spin on 70’s disco. The opening track “Reunited” has a more melancholic and simpler sound which is very effective. However the EP soon picks up tempo with tracks like “Cannibal” and “Power Surge” which really brings you back to the sounds of the 70’s disco. I really feel with this EP it is great to listen to whether you want to chill out with the relaxing vocals or dance around with the up tempo disco beats.

Reaction B

Friday, 5 February 2010

Mamas Gun - Wishing/Finger On It

Reviewed by Rob Denby

Amidst the mass of indie and europop acts to hit the chart over the past decade, it’s refreshing to hear a sound based not on the musical stylings of Oasis, or which is centred around a monotonous bass line masking a repetitive melody. Mamas Gun have already achieved success in Japan and their new double A side single, ‘Wishing/Finger On It’, demonstrates a unique sound with inspiration coming from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

‘Wishing’ is a fantastic track with soft vocals transcending a funky blend of soul, pop and jazz. The song features an incredibly catchy rhythm and its composition builds to a crescendo of upbeat musical contentment. Meanwhile, ‘Finger On It’ is the bouncy younger brother to Wishing’s controlled adult demeanour. A fast-paced track with a Jamiroquai-esque beat, it’s clear that Mamas Gun have got what it takes to tackle the UK chart.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Animal Kingdom – Two by Two

Reviewed by Adam Williams

Described as ‘Sigur Ros meets Radiohead’ the London based four-piece are really closer to middle of the road bands like Keane, Coldplay and Snow Patrol that have dominated the charts in recent years.

Two by Two is a well constructed single which contains a familiar dose of soft rock, inoffensive vocals and an uplifting chorus which will is will no doubt go down well with its target market. Their generic rock sound offers little to distinguish them from the pack but this single is perfectly listenable.

Reaction B

You Me at Six – The Consequence

Reviewed by Adam Williams

Emo pop-rockers You Me at Six return with The Consequence, the first track off their new album Hold Me Down. This new track continues the familiar pop-punk sound of their debut album but brings a more polished than their previous tracks, losing some of the band’s raw charm in the process.

More socially acceptable than My Chemical Romance and with a more mainstream sound than contemporaries Funeral for a Friend, existing fans are sure to lap up the new material but this new song is unlikely to win any new supporters.

Reaction C

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Bombay Bicycle Club - Evening/Morning

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Another enjoyable track from the north London indie rockers. The instrumental is fairly chilled back which benefits the vocals a lot. Overall this single can be played again and again and still be enjoyed as just as much as the first time you hear it.

Nuala Dalton - Breaking the Spell

Reviewed by Clare Russell

Personally, I didn't particualrly enjoy listening to this album and struggled to listen to all 13 songs. The lyrics focused on her feminist views and her opinions about life. I didn't admire the tone of her voice or the slow pace of the songs. It was quite depressing and I wouldnt recommend listening to this artist if you dont enjoy pop/rock.


Owl City - Fireflies

Reviewed by Clare Russell

The lyrics speak of hopes and dreams but settle straight back to reality and things everyone can relate to. This is definitely a song that everyone needs to listen to. Its a 'feel good' tune, that will certainly lift your mood! Being the current no.1 single proves how popular this catchy song is.


Rhianna - Rude Boy

Reviewed by Clare Russell

As always, Rhiannas voice sounds incredible in this song. The lyrics are arguably the best feature of “Rude Boy.” The sexual lyrics ensure that its memorable 'come on rude boy, can you get it up?'. However, its appeal caters specifically for the younger generation.


Party Dark - Is That You

Reviewed by Sophie Stewart

My immediate reaction to this track was that it sounds quite like something Dizzee Rascal would produce. It is catchy and upbeat, a great track for getting ready for a night out. I think these guys are onto something good, and could do well for themselves in 2010. 'Is That You?' is an awesome tune that I hope will be in the clubs very soon.


Tiesto - Who Wants to be Alone

Reviewed by Sophie Stewart

'Who Wants To Be Alone?' is the new track featuring Nelly Furtado. It is not what you would expect from a Tiesto track – there are no pumping beats and no catchy chorus, and I can’t see it being played in clubs like many of Tiesto’s other tracks. It is not a fast track, and I would have trouble dancing to it! However there are other remixes of the song on the CD, and the Robbie Rivera Juicy Radio Edit transforms the track into a club classic. I feel that the track should be Nelly Furtado feat. Tiesto, not Tiesto feat. Nelly Furtado.


Alan Pownall

Reviewed by Sophie Stewart

This album sampler consists of 5 tracks and my immediate reaction was to relate the music to Jack Johnson. The tracks are very acoustic-based, with some slower songs like “Colourful Day”, and some catchier, more upbeat songs like “Chasing Time”. Alan has a smooth voice which suits this kind of music and is relaxing and calming. I loved it for chilling out to, some really good songs that would definitely grow on me if I played them more times.


Never Mind the Stars - Holiday

Reviewed by Sophie Stewart

This tune is an upbeat, catchy, feelgood track. It fits perfectly into the electro indie pop bracket, and I honestly love this tune. It really fits in well between other indie music like Alphabeat and the Hoosiers.


OK Go - Of the Blue Colour of the Sky

Reviewed by Joel Hawkins

It is amazing the amount of hits OK Go received (somewhere in the region of 49 million views) for their perfectly choreographed video of “Here it goes again”. But, for saying they have a mainstream video and a mainstream sound, OK Go is definitely not a mainstream band.

The new album “Of the blue colour of the sky” is the third album from the band and has produced some catchy memorable tracks. The lack of musical style has proved an advantage to OK Go in this album, as they have been able to explore their boundaries without disappointing audience expectations.

“WTF?”, the first track, starts the album in a fascinating way as, at times, it seems as though you’re listening to a Prince track, with the funk guitars and vocals provided by front man Damian Kulash. OK Go has maintained their indie style but they have added something different to every track which guarantees to grab the attention of the listener.

My personal favourite addition to the album is the stunning acoustic track “Last Leaf”. The band has executed this track to perfection, bringing out a soft, beautiful side to the album which just completes it.

I was particularly looking forward to this album coming out as I am a huge OK Go fan. And my expectations have not been disappointed. The band, supported by ‘Flaming Lips’ producer Dave Friedman, has produced yet another fantastic album I know that I will be listening to this album again and again and I am confident that it will grab the attention of many more people and put the band into mainstream, which is where they surely belong.


Monday, 1 February 2010

Hot Chip - One Life Stand

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

Once again Hot Chip have come out with a belter of a pop dance tune. After listening to ‘One Life Stand’ a couple of times to get a feel for it before reviewing it, I got distracted and went and entertained myself doing other productive activities such as procrastinating about what would happen if the new Pendulum album is a good as that clip on YouTube of ‘Ransom’ suggests it will be. To my surprise, I haven’t been able to get ‘One Life Stand’ out of my head since. It’s been a week. It is like superglue in my brain. The radio version is perfect for, well, radio, and with the album version being more pure dance music orientated, this song has something for both the general public and those with a slightly more discerning dance taste. It even has a bit of a disco vibe to it, which being another of my secret passions, may be the reason I’m hooked. Granted this isn’t a song that is going to advance Hot Chip’s sound in any way, but it is a bit of fun, and we are all entitled to that.


Sunday, 31 January 2010

Lemonade – Bliss Out

Reviewed by Chris Render

I think it is only fair of me to make it clear I am not a fan of the whole garage/jungle scene, and therefore I wasn’t particularly enamoured of Bliss Out. That’s not to say I particularly disliked it, in fact I found it relatively catchy. I simply mean to say that pounding, repetitive bass isn’t really my thing. If it appeals to you, I’d say check it out, but I won’t recommend it to rock fans.



Gliss – Beauty

Reviewed by Chris Render

I’m still not entirely sure what to make of Beauty, the second single from LA trio Gliss, other than that I enjoyed it. It is a catchy track, competently performed in a manner that struck me as reminiscent of The Velvet Underground, with an odd, somewhat enchanting edge of the surreal. Whilst not to everyone’s tastes, I’d personally say that Beauty is well worth a listen.



Cancel the Astronauts – I am the President of Your Fan Club and Last Night I Followed You Home

Reviewed by Chris Render

If I’m honest, I offered to review this for a laugh. When I heard the title, I couldn’t help but grin. I never actually expected to enjoy it as much as I did. I am the President of Your Fan Club and Last Night I Followed You Home is catchy, cheerful and enjoyable, a triumphant EP about the often harsh realities of young love. Cancel The Astronauts are clearly both skilled musicians and very clever lyricists, juxtaposing less than cheery subject matter with upbeat tones to create an achingly catchy sound.

Although every track is a highlight, the really stand out moment for me on this EP was Late in the City: a tale of love and loss set to music that seems made to dance to, that is fast becoming one of my favourite songs of the year. Cancel The Astronauts seems perfect for a mainstream student audience (the kind of people you could find filling the Cooperage (RIP) on a Monday night). More than anything, I would describe I am the President of Your Fan Club and Last Night I Followed You Home as fun. Clearly, the Scottish musicians love playing as much as I love hearing it.



Last Letter Read – These Stories Roll

Reviewed by Chris Render

I surprised myself this weekend by how much I enjoyed this EP from Last Letter Read. The Sussex based peddlers of floppy haired pop-punk had been compared to the likes of Busted and McFly, so naturally I assumed These Stories Roll would be terrible, an opportunity for me to exercise some journalistic venom. How wrong I was.

Although definitely of the same genre as the aforementioned “musicians”, Last Letter Read show a degree of talent and passion that far surpasses their predecessors. These Stories Roll is a fine showcase for a band acting to successfully revitalise a genre that many were glad to see die. Reminding me more of Savage Garden (who in spite of myself, I actually quite liked) than Busted (who I proudly did not), I hope and expect to hear more from Last Letter Read in the future. THIS is what the early Naughties should have sounded like.



Forgotten Roots – Crosses and Circles

Reviewed by Chris Render

The debut “mini-album” from Northern quartet Forgotten Roots perfectly exemplifies the current Western neo-punk music scene. Although not exactly my thing, Crosses and Circles is by no means a bad album, with catchy tunes performed with great skill by the Blyth based rockers. Tracks like Bats and 403-405 show that Forgotten Roots have great musical potential, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear more from them in future.

Crosses and Circles is a prime example of the angsty, teen-orientated punk popularised these days by bands like Alkaline Trio and Green Day, and as such is not to everyone’s tastes, but I think that Forgotten Roots show great potential, and if more new punk sounds appealing, I’d definitely recommend Crosses and Circles. One for the Krash crowd, but they’ll love it.



The Best of Fried Egg Records

Reviewed by Chris Render

I was really looking forward to this, a compilation of Bristol punk from 1979-1980. And I wasn’t disappointed. The Best of Fried Egg Records provided me with a new look at a genre I love. Bands like Shoes for Industry and Electric Guitars are greatly indicative of the punk scene at the time, both in terms of musical sound and of political agenda, and in the integration of the two.

Reminiscent of bands like The Sex Pistols and my beloved Clash, the bands The Best of Fried Egg Records showcases are exactly what you would expect from the late 70’s British punk scene. These artists perfectly exemplify the musical styling of the nation at the time, and although maybe not as famous as some of their contemporaries, these musicians stand up alongside artists like The Damned and The Stiff Little Fingers in terms of musical ability if not notoriety.

The Best of Fried Egg Records is everything I had expected and more: a compilation of fantastic punk tracks that could easily rival London Calling or Smash It Up. This album opened my eyes to a much wider range of seventies/eighties punk than I had ever knew existed.



Collapse Under The Empire – Find A Place To Be Safe

Reviewed by Chris Render

New album Find A Place To Be Safe provided me with my first listen to German instrumentalists Collapse Under The Empire, so I had absolutely no idea what sort of thing to expect. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was pleasantly surprised. Collapse Under The Empire are an essential listen for fans of post-rock, and in fact something more, instilling their music with the sort of passion and contemplation I would have thought impossible without lyrics.

Find A Place To Be Safe opens strongly with Captured Moments and Crawling, before really hitting its stride with tracks like Angle of Incidence and Decay. Perfectly paced, well performed and deeply contemplative, Find A Place To Be Safe is fantastic, with other highlights including the title track, Tranquility... well, pretty much the whole thing.

To conclude (somewhat superfluously), Find A Place To Be Safe is a fantastic work, essential listening for fans of post rock. People who are really into their music owe it to themselves to check Collapse Under The Empire out.



Codeine Velvet Club – Album

Reviewed by Chris Render

After reviewing single Vanity Kills, I was uncertain what to make of Codeine Velvet Club (perhaps best known as the side project of Fratellis front-man Jon Lawler), save that I liked them. Having now heard their full self-titled debut album, I can happily say that the future for Codeine Velvet Club is a bright one.

Codeine Velvet Club is exactly what Vanity Kills had led me to expect, which is to say catchy and unforgettable. This indie-pop-electro (for lack of a better phrase) masterpiece is coherent and well-paced, ensuring for anyone in doubt that Lawler could easily make a successful career for himself outside of The Fratellis. Both Lawler and collaborator Lou Hickey display energetic vocals and skilful guitar work, making Codeine Velvet Club a fantastic debut album

Although, as with most albums, some tracks do fall a bit short (Begging Bowl Blues and Nevada left me somewhat cold), album highlights such as opener Hollywood, Little Sister and single release Vanity Kills show that Codeine Velvet Club are one worth watching. While maybe not to everyone’s taste, and indeed met with mixed reviews, Codeine Velvet Club struck me as a fantastic debut album for a band not to be missed.



Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Polarsets - Then a Girl Falls In Your Arms

Reviewed by Christian Allen

Recently I was lucky enough to gain work experience as an intern at 6music over the extended Uni Christmas holidays. Contrary to what you’d think it wasn’t all about making cups of tea and coffee either, granted I did excel at this. I got to spend most of my time working on the Tom Robinson’s Introducing Show and as a result feel more clued up on new music than ever. One of the main jobs was sifting through the recommendations we got sent, which contained an unusually high amount of North-East contributions. Amongst them were Newcastle’s very own Polarsets, which, after maybe 10 seconds of listening, I put through and with Tom’s seal of approval made it into the show last week.

Now, safely back in the North-East, NSR have been sent their new E.P, available for free at, 3 tracks which cement the band as one of the strongest in the region. ‘Just Don’t Open Your Eyes Yet’ and ‘Then a Girl Falls In Your Arms’ are strong, hook laden tracks you’d expect to hear on any daytime radio show, the latter as catchy a pop song I’ve heard all year.

Obvious similarities can be drawn between the band and fellow Tyne natives Little Comets, jangly guitar riffs, frantic drumming and high pitched vocals; complete with golden vocal harmonies is the closest thing the North-East has to a ‘sound’. Parallels can also been drawn to The Wombats, Go Faster and Hot Club De Paris, all with the ability to write a track to chant along to that isn’t necessarily seen as ‘Lad-Rock’. However, the fundamental connection these bands share, above all else, is that they sound like their enjoying themselves.

They’re apparently pioneering a genre they call ‘Deep Disco’, a sound which conjures up images of the Bee Gees and Kool and the Gang being banished to the sewers. But on this evidence, this is indie-pop at its catchiest. The E.P has a genuine sense of exuberance, optimism and energy hugely lacking from a host of ‘ones to watch’ acts and promises much for future releases. They’re playing a host of dates around the North-East, well worth investigating.

Murder FM – Anthems for the Used (Mini Album)

Reviewed by Scott McLoughlin

Like angry shouty men? Particularly, angry shouty tattoo covered men with interesting hairstyles? If yes, you’ll love Murder FM. Simply breed ‘30 Seconds to Mars’ with ‘LostProphets’, add some extra hate of the world, and let it stew in a disco. Murder Fm emerges from the mean rock disco broth to challenge your musical tastes. Though FM do not advocate murder, many makers of musical opinion will argue Murder FM do indeed murder music. ‘Heavy’ music still divides opinions, however, Murder FM are much more than just ‘guitar metal’. Synthesizers and keys, though not the biggest part of their sound, temper something really heavy, and make it much more accessible. Murder FM’s tracks ‘Mrs. Wrong’ and ‘As Beautiful As You Are’ are quite a good examples of metal mitigation. They are in effect potential pop songs that got kicked out of ‘The Charts’ (a high-class nightclub called), and spent a night behind bars for drinking too much and kicking Barbie Girl in the face. Though possibly an intimidating music venture for mellow music fans, Murder FM are surprisingly easy to listen to. Maybe I am guilty of presupposing everybody is as receptive to rock music as myself. Even so, try Murder out. You might well be surprised.


Tori Amos - Midwinter Graces

Reviewed by Scott McLoughlin

Midwinter Graces has ‘BBC Radio 2’ written all over it. If you like Tori Amos and wear cardigans deliberately to be pretentious this is definitely the Christmas album for you. In ‘Midwinter Graces’ Amos puts her own take on classic Christmas and festive winter songs such as: ‘What Child’, ‘Nowell’, and ‘Star of Wonder’. Amos’ gift to the listener appears to be a simple rearrangement of seasonal songs into a more conventional pop structure. The result is an album of Christmas songs you will probably never play as you opt for the classics, or a pop album you’ll store with the Christmas decorations. Once you’ve dusted off 11months of dust every year you will probably come to realise it is a very good album in regard to musicianship. However, it has no clear purpose, apart from actively and positively seeking musical territory usually filled by failed Christmas number one attempts. Give it to someone who wants to be ‘alternative this Christmas’, or someone who really likes Tori Amos.

An easily ignorable 2.5 / 5

Ou Est Le Swimming Pool – Dance the Way I Feel

Reviewed by Scott McLoughlin

If you do as ‘Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’ urge, and dance the way you feel, you’ll probably look like a robotic muppet. However, you won’t care, as ‘Dance the way I feel’ is an electronic delight. You’ll loose yourself in newly discovered electronic recesses of your own mind. It has an infectiously catchy electronic synth riff that accompanies a repetitive, instructive and uplifting chorus. The verse is a brooding indie narrative of a nightclub, ‘Pet Shop Boys-esk’ in feel, unashamedly good electro-pop in reality. Well matched beats, and subtle multi-layered lead and string synthesisers combine to make what can only be described as ‘electro-joy’. Paradoxically the cold wired synthesizers make you feel warm on the inside. You know deep down that the programming of the keyboards cannot compute warm-blooded human emotion, but you remain confused by how close they get. The sentiments in the vocal humanise the near clinical electronica, making clear the ultimate feel good nature of the tune. The Camden trio are increasingly rising in profile, supporting many premier British electro-pop names; ‘La Roux’, ‘Sam Sparrow’, ‘Mr Hudson’, and ‘Reverend and the Makers’ to name a few. They also played no less than three stages at Glastonbury ‘09. If somehow you like you music dancier in nature I’d definitely recommend the ‘Dynamikk’ remix of ‘Dance the Way I Feel’. ‘Ou Est’ are definitely a name to remember. Actually, they make great music just about worthy of accompanying their unforgettable name. Possibly one of the best band names ever.


Band Name: Off the Scale /5

Massive Attack – Heligoland

Reviewed by Helen Stephenson

Listening to Heligoland you recognise immediately that it is a Massive Attack record, but with a big twist. With the release of Heligoland, Massive Attack have shed their old skin and morphed into an entirely different animal. This is more of a compilation album overseen by Massive Attack, rather than pure Massive Attack. The two of the group’s founders who are still around, Grant Marshall and Robert Del Naja, seem to have opened a floodgate through which artists are pouring in order to be associated with the duo, including Damon Albarn, Hope Sandoval and Guy Garvey to name only three of many. Don’t worry though, Horace Andy’s still around.

The collaborative nature of this album shows, and perhaps Massive Attack compromised on some musical decisions which would explain the different sound. As well as being marginally more like a pop record, the songs are of a faster tempo than you normally associate with Massive Attack. This may be the reason that these tracks do not feel like they pull you into the fabric of their being in the same way old Massive Attack music does. Nevertheless, this is still a strong album and worth a listen.

Heligoland is released on 8th February through Virgin Music.


Monday, 25 January 2010

Groove Armada – I Won’t Kneel

Reviewed by James Fairfield

Compared to Groove Armada’s earlier chill out tunes their new single ‘I Won’t Kneel’ feels fairly minor and while it still typically fuses different genres together it feels fairly dated, providing a more 80’s vibe than anything else. But like most Groove Armada it still very enjoyable to listen to and catchy.

The remixes provided on the single are nothing special and most of them sound way too similar to the original album track.

Reaction C

All The Time I Bled – Flymore

Reviewed by James Fairfield

This single seems stereotypical of a new band trying to create something original in the metal genre. It offers everything from messy distortion, screaming that is likely to have fucked up the singer’s vocal cords and lyrics that are hilariously emo and clichéd.

Overall this track is unlikely to be used as evidence for metal being a universal and musically clever genre of music and might instead convince you that this what musically retarded people do when they get angry.

Reaction C

Friday, 22 January 2010

Fyfe Dangerfield – She Needs Me

Released 11/01/10

Reviewed by Andy Knox

Guillemots lead man Dangerfield sparking a solo career is hardly a surprise and ‘She Needs Me’ is an up-beat, piano/violin based pop record that is arguably more commercial than his aforementioned previous guise. I wanted to hear it again (which can’t be a bad thing) and even though the opening bass line reminds me of something from a Nashville-country-hoe down, the song is good attempt from a clearly very talented individual.

Ash - Space Shot

Released 18/01/10

Reviewed by Andy Knox

So there were three lads, then three lads and a girl and now three lads again and although my heart is delighted they are still going, my head says they are probably clutching at straws now. Ok, so maybe they’re not going to ever be as popular as the days of ‘1977’ or even ‘Free All Angels’, but ‘Space Shot’ is a catchy enough tune, with a big riff, very Ash-esque. vocal and fun synths. I hope it gets enough airplay and attention to at least make the top 100.

Editors – You Don’t Know Love

Released 25/01/10

Reviewed by Andy Knox

Editors follow up single to ‘Papillon’ from their third major release ‘In This Light and On This Evening’ is quite simply very repetitive and not very exciting. Lead vocalist Tom Smith’s voice sounds deeper than ever on a track which follows down that dark sound that White Lies made fairly popular last year – but doesn’t come anywhere close enough to being memorable. Dark it may be, dull it certainly is.

Codeine Velvet Club – Hollywood

Released 28/12/09

Reviewed by Andy Knox

Jon Lawler (better known as John Fratelli) and Lou Hickey create a great blend of mix gender vocals over a tune which at points is very 1950s. And although it would be an unfair assumption to think of CVC as a more mature Fratellis, one notable similarity from The Fratellis is Lawler’s low self-asteem which is seen in “she’s got too much class for the likes of me”, however, judging the band and the tune without comparison, this is a strong song that could do well.